Category Archives: choirs

An interesting choir year

The choir is done for the church year until September. It’s been a momentous period. Victor left last June, and in the proper Presbyterian tradition, a committee was formed to find a replacement. In the meantime, we had Don, a fellow I’d worked with often, who would be interim through Epiphany in early January. The committee found a candidate, OKed by the choir, but she was in the DC area and had to sell or rent her residence. Fortunately, with a new administration, she was able to come up on March 1. In the interim, Chris, our bass section leader, filled in as director.

Janet came up but, just as we got to Holy Week, fell ill. So it was Chris leading the choir on Easter Sunday. Janet returned, but her sister, who had been dying of cancer, got to the end stages. Jack, another bass in the choir, took over the last couple rehearsals and services. Evelyn, Janet’s sister died on Friday, June 26.

Coincidentally, Bradley Wong, a former member of the church and the choir – he was there when I first arrived nine years ago, though not in several seasons – died on Saturday, June 27.

It’s those deaths, along with the number of celebrity deaths and maybe the constant rain of late that put Samuel Barber to mind. I had a friend named Donna George who died a few years ago. She had given me this recording of eight different versions of Barber’s Adagio.

So I went to YouTube and found this choral version of the Agnus Dei plus a more traditional version.


The Choir Is Still Singing

Last week, on Maundy Thursday, our church choir was rehearsing in the sanctuary. One member got up a couple times, but then returned. Suddenly, she toppled over. This wasn’t a slumped over as though she had fainted; this was a stiff collapse as though she were a tree being felled by a lumberjack. She was terribly pale. Someone called 911, and while a nurse in a congregation – previously unknown to me – helped others tend to her, I waited for the ambulance.

So as people arrived and said “hi” to me, I was evidently not very responsive. The emergency team treated her, then put her on a gurney and took her to the hospital. a member of the congregation not in the choir, who worked in the hospital, followed her to the facility. Then the choir had tpo sing, which we did, admirably under the circumstances.

As it turns out, the culprits were low potassium and dehydration, which meant low blood volume and low blood pressure. Much to our delight and surprise, she was able to sing on Easter Sunday morning.

There have been other choir incidents though, all of these involving different people over the past couple weeks
* hospitalized with arrhythmia, though out by Easter
* out for six weeks for a surgery, though should be returning today
* family was in a car accident which totaled the vehicle but rendered relatively minimal harm
* on medicine that thinned the blood too much and had had to be briefly hospitalized
* illness
* flu
* broken foot

And during Holy Week, the choir director also had the flu, missing her first Easter in church probably ever. Fortunately, our former acting director was able to step in for both the Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday services.

So say a little prayer (or whatever it is you do) for our hardy little band.

A few days in the life

Apparently, there are actually blogs that do nothing but note all the things that happen in people’s lives. I’ve been resistant to that, but I’m inclined to note the last few days in some detail. I suppose I could have made these many Twitter posts – and be mocked – but frankly have been too busy.

After racquetball, go to the dentist. He’d put a crown in last fall, but he was dissatisfied with the spacing between my teeth, where food would get caught, so he’s doing a redo gratis. It may be free, but it’s not free of discomfort. Also takes longer than planned and I miss my bus – another one doesn’t come for 2.5 hours, but my colleague picks me up.
End of the day, wife drops off daughter at my work to take home, so wife can go to meetings, one work-related, the other at church. Unfortunately, she can’t find the first meeting and the second one is canceled.

Father-Child Pancake Breakfast at daughter’s daycare. That was nice, but I had to break up a couple boys who were literally about to come to blows over toy dinosaurs. A friend of mine that I’ve only known since 1958, whose birthday is today, BTW, suggested over four years ago that it’s probably a good thing I had a daughter rather than a son. I didn’t understand at the time, but I think I do now.

FINALLY take items to the post office. This was something I was going to do on December 20, along with finishing the Christmas letter; the wife had edited what I had wrote. But I NEEDED just that one day, and when I ended up taking care of my sick child instead – and into the evening, because the wife had a meeting – not only did the window of opportunity go away, but so did a whole bunch of my holiday mojo. I was actually quite melancholy over it for weeks. I never did complete the letter – that weekend was impossibly full, and the presents, bought weeks before, never got sent. So, on this day, packages to my mother and sisters, plus some other items to Eddie, Tom the Mayor, Scott and a woman in Canada finally went out the door. (I STILL haven’t sent to Lefty Brown’s friend Anthony, because I don’t have his address.)

Take bus downtown. At my stop, Washington and Lark, is a fire truck, with an EMT truck pulling up. There’s a guy they need to defibrillate sitting outside the kiosk; it’s cold – could they not have done this in a vehicle? While this was going on, an ambulance and another fire truck stop a block away at Dove and Washington. What’s going on there?

My bus shows up, but not a half block on my journey, a car pulls out of its parking space and hits the bus I’m on. No one was hurt; in fact, I barely noticed. But the bus driver had to wait for the police and the CDTA supervisor. Fortunately,the bus company sent another vehicle less than 25 minutes later to finish the trek.

That evening, a first rehearsal with our new church choir director, Janet Davis, followed by a gathering at the home of the interim director, Chris, who lives in this quite historic house (once the home of the Albany Conservatory, and before that, a Presbyterian manse).


I heard that on the news that Albany High School will be delayed two hours because of the presence of Fred Phelps, who I mentioned here. This is actually something I’ve known for over a week ago but was told not to report, lest Freddy and the schemers be tipped off. So after I dropped off Lydia, I did what I suggested others not do – go to the high school. Across the street from the school there were the Westboro people well outnumbered by he counterdemonstrators. Most of the good guys were well behaved and spoke on their megaphones about Christian love.

Then people went in two different directions. Some, including me, went downtown to SUNY Central to rally where Phelps said he’d be on his website; evidently, he finally figured out that this WASN’T the campus and didn’t show. Still about 150 people (way more than the 50 the Times Union reported) made some noise and got lots of support from the passersby.

Meanwhile, the others went uptown at the not optimal (read: busily dangerous) Fuller Road and Washington Avenue, where the Phelps people ended up. That also went well, according to reports. Incidentally, there was ALSO a fairly large rally Thursday night in front of City Hall, where the mayor – who’s running for ere-election this year, unsurprisingly – showed up.

[We interrupt this blog to note End the Lies, a a new website showing some of the worst perpetrators of lies about GLBT people. Now back to the narrative.]

I had received a $50 gift certificate from the Downtown Business Improvement District in a drawing I barely remember entering for a place called Salon 109 at 109 State Street in Albany, so I opted to get a massage there. It was…WONDERFUL. Later, had lunch with my wife – this almost never happens – as we partook of an especially very good buffet of Indian food.

SATURDAY, MARCH 7 (yes, it was my birthday)

Very busy time in my house, with one person, John, fixing our oven that’s been out six days and our hall lights that had been out for over six months, someone else, Bonnie, cleaning the house, and lengthy conversations with both of my sisters and aforementioned old friend – HB, Sara Lee).

Played backgammon for an hour with the Hoffinator and a couple games of hearts with her and friend Orchid; I shot on the last hand to win the second game. Game playing – just what I wanted as a present. The Obama speeches book, the racquetball equipment and the Clapton 2004 DVD were just bonuses.


Church youth did Godspell Jr. It was excellent; surprisingly moving.
The weather is warming and I took Lydia to the playground for the first time this year. The ground is muddy, but the wood chip base around the slides is absorbent and not too bad.

That’s enough.


Tosy Was Wrong

Tosy wrote: For some reason, I get the feeling that everyone knows about Coverville. But maybe I’m wrong. Yup, Tosy, you were wrong, ’cause I wasn’t familiar with this eclectic website that offers a podcast two or three times a week consisting of cover songs, nothing but cover songs. Now I’ve subscribed to it via iTunes. I was considering listening to some of the earlier episodes, but there are 407 of them, so I thought the better of it.

I love cover tunes. I have whole albums dedicated to the works of Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, The Eagles, Marvin Gaye, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Curtis Mayfield, Charlie Mingus, Harry Nilsson, Doc Pomus, Pete Seeger, Richard Thompson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Who, and Neil Young. The Red, Hot Blue albums tend to be filled with covers. I have Motown artists covering other Motown artists, and pop versions of West Side Story. And Beatles – LOTS of Beatles covers.

Coverville also features a search mechanism by which one can find who covered what songs. The main search page was offline last I checked; however, Brian Ibbott, host and producer of the radio broadcast, has sent me a link to the beta search site that works much better. I’m loath to put the beta link on this page because the original search page will be back online soon, but if the original search engine is not working, e-mail me and I’ll get you the beta site.

It also has a discussion board, where I found this cover of Stairway to Heaven, if it had been done by four moptops:

Thank you for being wrong, Tosy.
There are other sites to search cover versions such as The Covers Project and Second Hand Songs.
Singing in a choir will keep you young
Misty Harris, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, January 05, 2008

Though Brahms and Beethoven aren’t what Richard Simmons had in mind with “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” new research suggests the composers’ choral work might be just what your body wants.

According to Victoria Meredith, a University of Western Ontario professor who used the school’s adult choirs as a “live research lab,” participation in choral music leads to increased respiratory function, improved overall health, a heightened immune system and improved brain function. Meredith also concludes that performing in a choir “can keep you younger and healthier for longer,” pointing to similar studies that found people who sing on a regular basis require fewer doctors’ visits, are less prone to falls, don’t need as much medication, and are less likely to be depressed.